NEW YORK Lead times for
aerospace aluminum alloys are expected to pare back next year
as more capacity for the value-added products comes online,
market sources told AMM.
Lead times are fairly robust at
between three and five months, down slightly from as high as
six months earlier this fall, but service center sources
maintain that they could come in noticeably early next
"I think lead times will
shorten," one service center source said, noting that 2013
supply looks poised to outpace an expected pickup in
"There is a certain amount of
pent-up demand because airlines all ... need to upgrade their
planes. A 20-year-old 737 is not going to get the kind of
mileage a new one will get. (But) every plate mill doubled
their capacity in anticipation of the big aerospace push," he
said. "Theyre all putting millions into their aerospace
capacity, but how long will that (demand) last if everyone has
Alcoa Inc., Kaiser Aluminum
Corp. and Constelliumthe three largest domestic producers
of aerospace alloyshave all invested heavily in aerospace
capacity this year.
expectations that the market would be tight following a
seven-week strike at Constelliums Ravenswood, W.Va.,
rolling mill were quelled after Constellium and United
Steelworkers union Local 5668 reached a new five-year contract
late last month (
amm.com, Sept. 20). Constellium began ramping up
capacity in late September (
amm.com, Sept. 28), and a spokeswoman told
AMM Thursday that the mill was back at full
A second service center source
agreed that lead times might shorten in early 2013 as a result.
"I do think theres a lot of capacity out there. It is
possible that (lead times) might tighten (especially) now that
Constellium has come back to full strength," he said.
But while many say lead times
will shrink in 2013, most agree they will hold firm through at
least year-end as demand remains robust.
"I havent really seen much
of a change. They havent gone out and they havent
come in (much)," the second service center said. "There is
tightness for aerospace 7000-series. The demand is there and
continues to be there."
If the Constellium strike lasted
longer, lead times might have pushed out more dramatically (
amm.com, Aug. 8), but most market players agreed
that the impact was minimal.
"I think they handled it pretty
well actually. They brought staff in to run (equipment) that
needed to be run. We havent seen a major interruption. It
was a very smooth transition," the second service center source
said of the strike.
"I think Constelliums
competitors, distributors and end-users all prepared for the
strike. There wasnt a real impact (on lead times)," a
third service center source agreed.
"I do think the (effects) of the
strike would have been more severe if it lasted much longer,"
the first service center said. "We would have had to scramble
to find metal in other places."